Monday, May 11, 2009
...for the captives and for their salvation,
let us pray to the Lord.
The Great Litany
May 24, 2009
The Sixth Sunday of Pascha
The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference
of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
To all the Clergy and the Laity of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen!
We, the Hierarchs of SCOBA, have, by the grace of God, been blessed to designate the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, this year on May 24, 2009, to be Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday in all Orthodox parishes of North America. Although Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) is the youngest Agency of SCOBA, it fulfills the direct and clear Evangelical command of the Lord, I was in prison, and you came unto Me (St. Matthew 25:36). Nevertheless, even if we all do not or cannot visit those in prisons, we all can participate in this healing ministry through our participation in the Divine Liturgy.
When, in each Divine Liturgy of our Church, we pray "for the captives and for their salvation," we have the opportunity to be mindful of the prisoners who are serving sentences in jails and penitentiaries throughout this nation. There are those who become captives as a result of their own sins. The prisons of our Nation are filled to overflowing. In fact, there are now more people incarcerated in the United States of America than in any other nation in the world, at any time in history. Many prisoners sincerely seek to be delivered from the chaos of their lives and be healed of their addictions, and they embrace repentance. They look to God for meaning and restoration. The Holy Orthodox Church offers the Life that gives meaning to all life, and is able to restore broken humanity to its original beauty.
This is where OCPM fulfills a vital and truly compassionate service of the Church. This ministry reaches into the dark corners of America's penal system to find captives who are looking for their salvation.
When we, the Members of SCOBA ask all of our parishes to find ways to support OCPM and encourage this work, we invite you to be active agents of compassion, true servants and missionaries who work for the salvation of those held captive by sin and evil which result in death. With such an understanding, let us listen to the voice of the Lord saying, I was in prison, and you came unto Me (St. Matthew 25:36), and join our prayers together for the captives and for their salvation.
With paternal blessings and love in the Risen Christ,
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
+Archpriest Alexander Abramov
Acting Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA
+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America